When I was in seminary, I sat in a theology class with six other students around a table. One day, the discussion was about oppression and prejudice. People shared some very personal painful stories about how they had been mistreated at best, abused at worst. I sat quietly.
Finally, one student noticed I wasn’t saying anything, and in a desperate attempt to be inclusive, blurted out, “And now, even white males are being oppressed!”
“Name one,” I said. I didn’t want other people’s truly painful experiences to be diminished by me cobbling together some tale of being passed over for Homecoming King or something. I’m enlightened like that.
When I served my first church, I went to a meeting of all the Presbyterian Churches in the Chicagoland area, a few hundred people gathered together to discuss church business. During the break, another minister saw my nametag, read it, and said, “Oh, you’re from that really progressive church.”
I didn’t follow. We were your standard suburban church. Great place, but no revolution was starting there. I questioned this person about what made us so progressive. Turns out, we were the only Presbyterian Church in Chicago with a female Senior Pastor and a male Associate Pastor. Let me translate that for my non-churchy readers. I’m a man, and my boss was a woman. I’m progressive like that.
This week, I have seen the ME TOO posts from women acknowledging that they have been harassed, insulted, or assaulted. To those women, I say I’m sorry. I have no understanding what you have been through, and I won’t try to claim otherwise.
To the men who might read this, I say we need to wake up. We can’t assume that we have no part in harassment just because we’ve never locked a woman in a hotel room. Instead, we need to be vigilant, aware of what’s going on around us. We need to be aware of what we say, and how we say it. And thinking we’re above participating in the harassment does not free us from responsibility in preventing it from happening. We need to listen and support these women.
Men need to be part of this solution. (I hate saying that, only because it sounds condescending like we’re going to rescue these little ladies.)
But, Men. We do need to be part of this solution. Not because we’re husbands. Not because we are fathers of daughters. We need to support these women because we are all part of this human family, and when we see injustice, we need to call it out.
We can do better. We have to.